I guest-blog a lot and must say that I am proud of it. When done with style and good intent, guest blogging can be an effective way of connecting with people in your industry and eventually giving your biz more exposure.
However, a difficulty many guest bloggers face is to keep writing on a regular basis. Eventually, there comes a time when one feels they've hit the wall and run out of ideas.
This is when inspiration comes to the rescue. When one finds a new source of inspiration, the creative process gets a new life. You write faster and easier, and readers can sense that your posts are not just mechanical writing, but also have a spark to them.
Dispelling one FAT myth about inspiration
OK, right here and right now, I'd like to prove to you that inspiration in fact plays a much bigger role in any creative process (be it blogging or anything else) than generally believed.
I'm sure you've heard this famous line by Thomas Edison:
"Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration."
What you probably don't know, however, is that there is more to this quote than what meets the eye. When talking about his experiences with Thomas Edison, Nicola Tesla recalled:
"If Edison had a needle to find in a haystack, he would proceed at once with the diligence of the bee to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search. ...I was a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him ninety percent of his labor."
One may argue that the second quote has little to do with inspiration, but to me it reveals a curious fact: it may well be the case that Edison advocated "perspiration" for the sake of perspiration, just because it convinced him of his own hard work.
For example, in my own experience, the more inspired one is during the creative process, the faster and easier it goes, the more effortless your thought process is, and the more impactful the result will be.
So, what I'd like to share with you today are some tricks one can resort to to catch the wave of inspiration and to use it to your advantage in order to create articles as you breathe - almost without effort.
A fit of instant (marketing) inspiration
The majority of marketers I've met in my life are opportunists. No good marketer misses a good opportunity, and this is because of how our industry is and its dynamics.
So, I get easily inspired when I smell big news, a breakthrough or a hot trend in the industry. And, whenever I do, I get a burning desire to write about it.
What I learned over the years is, when you get that sudden rush of excitement over a topic - go for it. If you linger, the moment will be lost, and you'll then spend more time covering the same topic (or some subject you are not interested in).
For example, when I realized Google AdWords Keyword Tool was no more (everyone expected it to become replaced with Google Keyword Planner at that time), I sat down and wrote a guest post about it in one go, words flying out from under my fingertips at the speed of light.
I have a friend who has this gorgeous dress she likes very much. One time, she confessed to me that she tried hard not to wear it all the time - so strong was her attachment to that piece of garment.
I can say the same about psychology. It's a discipline I have been fascinated with since college, and my enchantment with it tends to transpire in many things I do, including marketing. However, I try not to yield to the temptation of tapping into it for inspiration all too often.
For instance, the article I wrote for the Link-Assistant.Com blog, 5 Online Reputation Slips Every Blogger Should Avoid, is roughly 50% psychology and 50% marketing. I really tried to spice it up with as much actionable psychology-based tips as I could.
By the way, I'm not trying to say that you should embrace psychology and follow my footsteps. Maybe this is not what makes you tick.
If that's the case, what you could do instead is aim for inter-disciplinary stuff. Are you passionate about neuroscience, aircraft engineering or gardening? I trust there are many ways you can transfer the inspiration you get from those things onto blogging.
Although I'm not much of a pop culture fan, sometimes it still gets to me after breaking through many membranes I create to bar it. At the same time, as a marketer, one has to be in the know of what's happening at least to some extent. E.g., you need to know who wrote Harry Potter, who plays Dr. House, etc.
The value of using pop culture in marketing is that it can work as a metaphor that large masses will understand. In other words, it helps you paint an impressive picture easier. How about some marketing lessons from Master Yoda, anyone?
Sometimes, one may even investigate a certain pop culture happening from a marketing point of view. This is what I did with this article on the Gangnam Style Phenomenon that was published on Social Media Today.
Charging an inspiration capsule
Quite often, I come across really interesting and inspiring (even lesson-teaching) stories marketers could benefit from in many ways. And, even though, individually, any such story may not be worth a separate post, compiling them into a nice round-up often results in a fun and useful post that fellow-marketers appreciate.
Rephrasing the famous line, "inspire and let be inspired". From time to time, I would accumulate and then share a compilation of paramount examples on a topic. For instance, like this mash-up of 10 Cool Online Banner Ideas:
Real life events
It's amazing how, virtually each year, the life cycle of Super Bowl commercials is prolonged by marketers who go on scrutinizing them and writing about them in an attempt to squeeze some promo wisdom out of those ads during the following months.
Likewise, you can build on any other event, conference or happening you have witnessed or have been part of. Bloggers do it all the time. Like I said, one should never miss an opportunity to create a great guest post - the next one may not come very soon.
For example, I really loved the eye-opening article by Andy Atkins-Kruger called How Latvia Teaches Us That "Think Global, Act Local" Is No Longer Useful In Search Marketing. It's basically Andy's account of the conference he took part in in Riga, Latvia.
Following other bloggers
They say that, if you want to make a great writer, you should do a lot of reading. Likewise, if you want to make a kick-ass blogger, you should read a hell of blog posts by other virtuosos first.
Trust me, it really works. Other people's mastery tends to rub off of you. Sometimes I even notice how my writing style becomes different under the influence of some awesome article I just read.
Apart from admiring the style of the New York Times' authors like David Segal, there are certain bloggers who write about online marketing, SEO, social media promotion, branding and other such topics whom I admire no less.
In my opinion, each of these individuals has something unique about their writing style, the topics they choose to cover or the manner in which they present information.
So, shhh, don't tell anyone, but I learned a great deal from:
- Eric Ward of LinkMoses Private
- Ann Smarty of MyBlogGuest
- Mars Dorian of the Mars Dorian blog
- Aaron Friedman of KahenaDigital
- James Chartrand (who is actually a lady) of Men with Pens
- Lilach Bullock of Socialable, and some other bloggers.
Well, I do understand the list looks a bit random, but it's an honest selection of the writing folks I'd take my hat off for.
As you see, the sources from which one gets inspiration may be quite different and often unpredictable. I just shared mine with you, but youre more than welcome to speak about your ways of finding blogging inspiration in comments.
Image credits: 1. Alejandro Escamilla at Unsplash.Com, 2. image of Thomas Alva Edison by Hunt, Ft. Myers, Fla. published 1914, 3. image of Nicola Tesla by Napoleon Sarony, c. 1890, 4. Martin Fisch at Flickr, 5. Jos Manuel Ros Valiente at Flickr, 6. a snippet from the Gangnam Style video.